Ma Dou Ling (Aristolochia contorta)

Perennial
A. nipponica.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Ma Dou Ling
Aristolochia contorta
Aristolochiaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The fruit and its capsule are antiasthmatic, antiseptic, antitussive and expectorant. A decoction of the fruit is used in the treatment of cancer, coughs, inflammation of the respiratory organs, haemorrhoids and hypertension[176, 218, 279]. It is also used to resolve phlegm and lower blood pressure[176]. It has an antibacterial action, effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Pneumococci, bacillus dysentericae etc[176].

    The root contains aristolochic acid. This has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy[176]. Aristolochic acid can also be used in the treatment of acute and serious infections such as TB, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and infantile pneumonia[176]. It also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells[176]. Aristolochic acid is said to be too toxic for clinical use[218].

    The root is used as a purgative in the treatment of rabies and also has sedative properties[218].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

  • Cautionary Notes

    We have no specific details for this species but most members of this genus have poisonous roots and stems[179]. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys[254]. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use[218]. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells[176].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse[134]. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 3 months at 20¡c[134]. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5¡c[200]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division in autumn[200]. Root cuttings in winter[200].
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Prefers a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, in sun or semi-shade[134, 200]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[134]. Most species in this genus have malodorous flowers that are pollinated by flies[200].
E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.